Tag Archives: work

1943. A train to catch

I was scurrying to the train station to catch my usual morning transport. I was running late because I had spilt coffee on my trousers (thank goodness it had cooled) and had to get changed. In my haste I forgot to take my phone out of the wet trouser pocket, so I didn’t know by how much I was running late.

The clock on the town tower was renowned for its unreliability. Going by what it said I had five minutes to get to the station to get on the train to take me to work. I work as a bank manager, and today the big boss is coming for an important meeting. VERY important, he had said on the phone.

Only four minutes to go. I thought I’d start to run; actually trot along, as I didn’t want to be all sweaty during the VERY important meeting.

Two minutes to go. I simply cannot afford to miss that train. What the heck! I’ll have to run, sweaty or not! I can explain to the boss why I’m perspiring so profusely. And…

Made it! Phew! That was close! I got a seat too. No sooner had I sat than the doors closed and the train began to noiselessly slide away from the station.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a voice over the intercom. “Welcome to the non-stop day trip to the capital city. Refreshments are available throughout the trip in the cafeteria carriage.”

I was on the wrong train. It was going the wrong way and it would take all day to get there.

1861. Strange goings-on

Una was one of a kind! She worked as a professional photographer. Well, sort of. That’s what she had posted on the sign on her office door: Una Devereux, Professional Photographer. If the truth be known, she didn’t even own a camera. The sign on the door was a cover-up for what was really going on in her office.

If anyone knocked on her door to make an enquiry about getting a photo taken, Una would say, “Dear me, I’d love to, but I’m utterly swamped with work at present.” Of course, if they knocked on the door to enquire about other matters that would be a different thing altogether.

Una always arrived at her work place late; it was usually mid-morning. She was gone by mid-afternoon. Occasionally, and it was very rare, she would return for a few minutes in the evening.

For all of these comings and goings we have a fairly reliable witness; Zita Pfahlert had an office in the same building right opposite to Una’s door, and Zita worked long hours as a dressmaker. She couldn’t help but notice Una’s movements.

Zita was pretty sure that Una didn’t work as a professional photographer, so she got her cousin, Milly (who was unknown to Una), to knock on Una’s door and ask about having a photo taken. “Dear me, I’d love to,” said Una, “but I’m utterly swamped with work at present.”

So with that, Zita was none the wiser. Zita thought of breaking into Una’s office to sniff things out. She thought better of it, although she did try her own key once in Una’s door. All with no luck.

Then one day, Una didn’t turn up at her office at all. There was nothing unusual in that. Her absence lasted a week. Zita at first presumed that Una was away on vacation. Things stretched out to two weeks; then three; then four. Una never came back.

Zita never did find out what really happened behind Una’s office door. And nor shall we. It’s a good lesson to us in minding our own business.

1849. Midmorning coffee

Cyril liked to have a coffee midmorning. It provided a break from sitting at the office desk. Not that he didn’t take his mug of coffee to the office desk to drink, but it was different. He didn’t have any of those fancy gizmos that sophisticated offices have. There was simply an electric kettle sitting on a little table next to a plug, a jar of instant coffee, and a jar of sugar. Anyway, there was just Cyril and his secretary.

When Ivy his secretary left for a new job, Cyril didn’t replace her for several months. During that time, to be honest, he simply couldn’t be bothered making a coffee midmorning. It’s not that he didn’t want one. It just that he really couldn’t be bothered having to wash his mug and teaspoon first. And then if the teaspoon was wet the instant coffee would stick to the spoon, and how does one then use the spoon to get the sugar out of the sugar jar?

Eventually Cyril hired a new secretary. Delesia was the perfect secretary; pleasant, efficient, capable, hard-working.

On her first day of work, around about half past ten, she announced to Cyril that she was taking ten minutes of time out, and would he like a cup of coffee?

Would he what! What a dear creature! Yes please!

That was years and years ago. This Saturday they will have been married for forty-two years.

1845. To find someone nice

Destiny said she didn’t marry her husband’s job; she married her husband. Quite frankly, she hated her husband’s job; cows, cows, cows. All he did every morning was milk cows. All he did every afternoon was milk cows. Was there ever time off?

Roman was doing his best. He’d grown up on a dairy farm. Dairy farming was all he knew. He’d worked hard throughout his teens. His father left Roman the farm. He built a special house on it for his widowed mother. He met and married Destiny. That was about his life.

Destiny didn’t merely love Roman; she fell in love with the prestigiousness of his habitation. How wonderful to live on a farm! How wonderful to have all this space! A house! A garden! Some chickens! A pet calf for the children when children came along! Fresh milk! All her friends married labourers of one sort or another; plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers. They lived in hovels in town. She lived in a mansion; more of a manor. She alone had married into proper bliss.

Can’t you take some time off so we can get away? asked Destiny.

The cows can’t not be milked.

Pay someone else to do it.

We can’t afford to do that yet.

Since a while Roman’s mother cooked one decent meal a day and brought it over. Destiny has gone off somewhere in pursuit of happiness. It’s all over. Roman wished he could get out sometimes and perhaps meet someone nice. If only he could find someone to milk the cows say one night a week.

Success! He found Ned Burton’s daughter from up the road to milk the cows on Thursdays. Betty knew the ropes; she was brought up on a farm. In fact, Betty helped milk the cows twice a day every day of the week. And on his day off Roman would give her a hand to milk. He didn’t need to look too far to find someone nice.

1814. So talented!

Charlotte didn’t have a single humdrum electron whizzing around in her brain. Her brain was on fire!

“You’re so creative, Charlotte,” people would say. “How do you come up with so many creative ideas?”

“I guess it’s a natural gift one is born with,” said Charlotte, and she would return to the painting she was painting, or the music for the Irish harp she was playing, or the sundial she was installing in the garden.

“Everything you touch turns to gold, Charlotte,” people would say. “You definitely have the Midas touch.”

“I don’t do anything to encourage it,” said Charlotte. “Things just come naturally to me,” and she went back to baking her Baked Alaska for she was have important friends over for dinner, or back to the rug she was weaving, or back to the dress for a niece’s doll she was sewing, or back to making homemade candles for a friend’s 30th birthday, or back to the lines she was learning for a dramatic production.

The extolling of Charlotte’s talents among her peers was like a mantra; it repeated itself over and over. “It’s sad you can’t find a job in this small town,” someone said. “Why don’t you move to the big city where your talents would be put to good use?”

So Charlotte moved to the big city in search of a job. What a relief! Quite frankly, Charlotte had driven everyone in the small town nuts.

1757. You’re hired!

Congratulation, Elric, you have the job. We were delighted with the quality of your experience and expertise shown in both your interview and your CV.

Your ability to cut through nonsense and get straight to the core of the matter was the singular feature of your interview that stood out from all the other almost eight hundred applicants. Your Harvard degree certainly helps but it’s not everything. It’s how you use your degree that matters.

So we are delighted to welcome you to the team. You start tomorrow. Dad said to say “Well done”. I was wondering when you go home if you can tell Mum that I’ll be a bit late home for dinner this evening.

1673. Why some pronouns are proper

Stephan had a reasonably well-paid job until the company was sued by Stephanie for using the wrong pronoun. It was obvious that it should have been “she” and “her”?

Stephanie had a reasonably well-paid job until the company was sued by Stephan for using the wrong pronoun. It was obvious that it should have been “he” and “him”?

Stephan had a reasonably well-paid job until the company was sued by Stephanie for using the wrong pronoun. It was obvious that it should have been “she” and “her”?

Stephanie had a reasonably well-paid job until the company was sued by Stephan for using the wrong pronoun. It was obvious that it should have been “he” and “him”?

Stephan was an expert at forging references. It was a handy skill to have when looking for a job. But now there simply wasn’t a need for it. Enough money had been made.

1614. The computer game

Keith was more than pleased that his wife, Zelma, was addicted to playing Candy Crush. She would come home from work and immediately begin to play the game on the computer.

“It makes such a difference playing on a bigger screen. The phone is so limiting.”

Keith always noticed that she was several levels ahead of where she was when she had left home that morning. Inevitably she was playing the game at work.

Why he was pleased with his wife’s obsession was because, to call a spade a spade, they had nothing to talk about. At least for the short time she was home, even though it drove him batty, she could talk about “Popping the bottles”, “Spreading the jam”, “Eating the chocolate” and “Getting the bear above the candy line”. It stopped them from having to face certain questions, such as why their relationship no longer worked.

The weekends were another thing altogether. Keith would hike off to his brother’s place, which Zelma didn’t mind because it gave her all the space in the world to play the game.

Last Thursday Zelma came home from work early. She had been sacked. She had no idea why.

Keith packed a bag and booked into a motel. Permanently.

1586. In pursuit of happiness

When Noreen married Hank it was so exciting. They had a little nest egg put away, and although both had reasonably stable jobs (Noreen was a cook and Hank was a carpenter) they spent hours discussing what they might do together to be self-employed and earn a living.

In the end it boiled down to two options: they could buy a tavern or they could buy a Bed and Breakfast. Noreen was not overly keen on the tavern, mainly because she had never been in a tavern in her entire life, let alone drink alcohol other than a wee wine mixed with a little water. On the other hand, being a cook she could whip up a storm for breakfast. Hank wasn’t too keen on having to make beds all day and sometimes cook, but Noreen assured him that she would cook and make the beds and his job was to maintain the gardens and buildings. What could be better? A Bed and Breakfast it was!

As if it had been made for them, a rural business came up for sale next to fields of wild flowers, next to a lake, next to a mountain. The sellers assured Noreen and Hank that business flourished, especially when hordes of visitors came over the summer. The Bed and Breakfast was purchased.

At the time of taking over, winter was approaching. The tourist season was over. Noreen discovered she was pregnant. Hank put his back out while creating an herb garden. Spring and summer arrived. Wife and husband were incapacitated. They couldn’t afford to hire help. They argued. Noreen lost the baby. They separated. They divorced. They sold the business for next to nothing. Each went their own way. Each have lived a miserable life since.

That’s the way things go when all turns to slush. Hank can’t cook, is grossly overweight, and lives on hamburgers and fish and chips. Noreen is a raging alcoholic and drinks herself silly every night. Let’s hope they don’t die before they find happiness.

1555. She couldn’t wait

(The closing sentence for this story was suggested by Cath of Cath’s World.

Winnie hated school. All day was spent sitting in a hot classroom listening to boring teachers drone on and on. She couldn’t wait to leave school for her life to finally start.

Winnie hated university. A student’s life was meant to be fun, but all she ever got was assignment after assignment. And boring lectures. She couldn’t wait to graduate for her life to finally start.

Winnie hated her job working as a receptionist for an airline company. People were so rude and demanding and full of themselves. She couldn’t wait to meet Mr Right for her life to finally start.

Winnie had a couple of kids before her husband, whom she now hated, asked for a divorce. She couldn’t wait for the divorce to come through for her life to finally start.

Winnie’s kids were expensive and tiresome. Soon, surely, they would leave home and start to be independent. She couldn’t wait for them to fly the nest for her life to finally start.

Winnie was now getting on in years. She worked as a receptionist for a hardware company. She couldn’t wait to retire for her life to finally start.